As a local mom, volunteer and community leader, I tend to wear many hats. However, recently all of my hats have merged into one main focal point – yoga. If you have been following local news, you are aware that the Encinitas Union School District recently received a grant to teach yoga to the students in all nine schools. Parents on both sides have been vocal about the ramifications of yoga inside the classroom. I am the mom of three children, PTA President of one of the EUSD schools in question and co-chair of an upcoming yoga event to raise money for medical research; I give Jois Foundation and their generous grant 100 percent of my support and gratitude. Here is why…
I started practicing yoga a few years ago. I had heard about its healing properties - both physically and emotionally. I knew it would be good for my body. I run a lot and often don't take the time to properly stretch. I knew yoga would help me in that aspect, but I was a little skeptical about the emotional side of it. But after a few weeks of going to classes, I "got" it.
Yoga is basically all about trying to balance yourself in unusually hard and often seemingly impossible positions. You are stuck there until you either collapse or you figure out how to "flow" your body and mind into the next pose. The only option is to breathe through it.
Raising children is not unlike yoga. Add in the equation that one of your children has a life threatening illness and you suddenly see the light. All require sweat, flexibility and stamina. However, if you plant your feet firmly on the ground and take just one breath at a time, you will be amazed at what you can do...
My oldest son was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at the age of two. And after 12 years of living with a chronic illness, we manage to do what other “normal” families do. We just have a few extras thrown in. Sean wakes up at 5:30 every morning to do his treatments before school and repeats his treatments again before going to bed. He swallows up to 30 pills a day, takes 3 inhales medicines, and injects himself with insulin several times a day. In addition to CF, Sean was diagnosed with CF Related Diabetes last summer. He has been hospitalized eight times, endured 2 surgeries and is well aware of the fact that the average life expectancy for someone living with CF is only 37. At the age of 14, Sean is almost middle aged.
There are times in which the disease seems like too much to bear. As a parent, my heart breaks thinking of the burden my son must carry. While yoga has helped remind me to take life one breath at a time, it has given him the necessary tools to continue breathing. This past summer, Sean was admitted to the hospital for decreased lung functions. Part of his treatment requires him to have a PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter) line inserted into his upper arm. This is not an easy procedure to watch and certainly can’t be easy to go through. Lying still and draped with surgical sheets, I noticed my son starting to breathe slowly in through his nose and out through his mouth. He was finding a way to reduce his anxiety and minimalize his discomfort. He was focused. He was calm. He was doing yoga. While yoga might not be a part of his regular life, he was able to recall a few of the techniques he had learned and use them when he needed them the most.
For that reason and more, I support EUSD’s decision to introduce yoga into the classrooms, as well as help the CF Foundation introduce The Big Breathe Yoga Marathon as an idea fundraiser for CF medical research. Ideal in the sense that the event basically attacks the disease at its most basic level - breathing. Sponsored by Rady Children's Hospital of San Diego and local yoga studios, it is an exciting example of Eastern philosophies meeting Western Science.
I am dedicated to raising my children to become happy, healthy adults. I am equally dedicated to volunteering at their schools and finding a cure for my son’s disease. And I am definitely dedicated to practicing yoga. It is a healthy reminder that one of life’s greatest gifts is the simple act of breathing. The other gift is hope. And I am grateful to The Big Breathe, local yoga studios who sponsor our efforts and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for giving me (and my son) an opportunity to breathe and hope. I realize others may not share my passion, but it is important to remind ourselves that when it all boils down - we all just want what is best for our children. While some may think their children would be better off without yoga. I will always maintain that my life and my children’s well-being will be greatly enhanced because of it.